When Christmas Renews a Burden for Someone You Love


“How is your family doing?”

I ponder the question and wonder which version to give her. Does she really want to know? Or is she just making small talk?

With a half smile, I tell her they are fine. We talk about my parents’ physical health and my brother’s whereabouts, leaving the conversation short and not going into any detail.

To be honest, small talk exhausts me. It is a skill I developed over the years, but I would much rather dive into the deep things, the spiritual things, than talk about the weather.

But sometimes the truth is too much for short conversation, the heart of the matter too intense. Brevity and pat answers just seem easier, don’t they?

We are in a season that is defined by family. And our families define us too. We see picture perfect poses of siblings and cousins on Facebook and some of them actually exude love through the screen. You can feel it.

But there is another emotion that no one talks about this time of year. It is the heart that is burdened, hurting, and perhaps losing hope for a family member.

If you don’t have one in yours, I guarantee you know someone who does. You may not know it, but they sit beside you at church, at the kids’ basketball game, and at the Christmas play.

They wonder if their loved one will ever break the chains of that addiction. If they’ll ever come home once and for all. They question whether they’ll ever see the Light that can penetrate the deepest darkness.

For the person with the burdened heart, coming home is a reminder that all isn’t well. While the time and the absence away from family may have changed her, it hasn’t changed the one she loves.

I know because I’ve been there. I know because I live it.

Sometimes the enemy plants a seed of doubt in my mind. I question all the intercessory prayers I sent up. I wonder how many prayers it takes to change a life.

Perhaps you’ve been there? You’re walking through a dark valley and you’re losing hope. Can I take your hand and share a little glimmer of light with you?

In the gospel of Luke, chapter 11 opens with Jesus praying. When he is finished, his disciples come to him and say,

“Teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1 NIV

They don’t ask how to raise the dead or heal people. They don’t want to know how to obtain earthly wealth or skill. After all, they left everything they owned to follow him. No, they asked him for instruction in one thing: prayer.

Would it suffice to say they thought it was important?

In a following passage, Jesus tells an interesting story. A man has a visitor in town but nothing to feed him, so he bangs on a friend’s door in the middle of the night to ask for food. The friend, not surprisingly, doesn’t want to let him in.

It’s inconvenient. It’s late. He’s tired and cranky. But the man is persistent. He doesn’t give up, and eventually the friend lets him in and gives him food.

The story serves to illustrate an important point: God loves persistent prayer. Not only that, he answers such prayers. It is like a chorus of praise to his ears. He doesn’t get tired of hearing the same requests repeated over and over. On the contrary, he delights in it.

Jesus concludes the story by saying,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9 NIV

Persistent prayer shows immovable faith. Even though we don’t see the answer, we trust the God who does.

Can I ask you not to give up hope this season? If you’ve abandoned the altar of prayer, can I encourage you to come before the throne of grace again? I promise to join you in a renewed vigor to keep asking, to keep seeking, to keep believing in a God who can do all things.

He’s waiting for you to come to him. He lives to intercede.

Never stop asking him to.


“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1 NLT

10 thoughts on “When Christmas Renews a Burden for Someone You Love

  1. I so needed to read this today, Abby! Some days it seems easier to give up on hope when nothing changes but as I have been reminded lately, it will all happen in God’s timing and I only need to trust Him. Thank you for sharing this!


    • Thank you so much for reading, Ronja, and I am thankful you were encouraged. That is always my hope and prayer. Yes, his timing is not always the same as ours, is it? Wishing you peace and joy this Christmas.


  2. I was just talking to my husband about this very thing. I go from sadness, to frustration, to anger when it comes to those in my family who need salvation. And this is the time of year when all of these emotions and people are right in my face. This reminded me to take a deep breath. God is in control and I just need to make myself available to be used by Him.


  3. Abby,
    So true…the Christmas season can often be bittersweet if we have family members who burden our hearts and continually infiltrate our prayers…but thank you for the reminder that God welcomes and hears our persistent prayers. Our God IS truly able…may we all have faith that the Light will triumph over the darkness. Real and beautiful post…
    Blessings and ((hugs)),


  4. Thanks for this encouragement that God loves persistent prayer and for your honest transparency as well. This offers a message of hope to many whose holiday is a bittersweet reminder that all is not well. My step-mother passed away last weekend, and I’ve been burdened for my father. God is in control, and I’ll keep praying for Dad’s salvation. 🙂


  5. This was a beautiful post today…I needed it! Thank you for reminding us of the light and the HOPE we have, and that God knows, He hears, and He answers–even though we often don’t see the answer now. Through a burden I carry (very similar to your own), I trust in the Lord and continue to pray, believing He will call those ones home to His heart again. Thank you, Abby!


    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and encouragement here, Angela! I hope you have a lovely Christmas and you’ve been in my prayers. Hope everything is going smoothly.


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